CPAP Central || A Season for Masks || Smaller Might Be Better

Respironics Go Life nasal pillows are easy to adjust and designed
to handle both CPAP and BiPAP prescriptions.

People often think that, once diagnosed with apnea and in need of PAP equipment, they will be limited to something more akin to a hockey mask than to what is actually available. Believe it or not, not all positive airway pressure (PAP) systems require a large mask.

Philips Respironics Nuance Nasal Gel Pillow employs comfort
gel technology with the same ultra-soft materials used in NICU
units to provide a super soft headgear that doesn’t irritate skin. 

If you have been given a prescription for CPAP, BiPAP or AutoPAP, you need to check with your physician to see if you can opt for one of the smaller masks available. Note: Not everyone can wear a smaller mask due to facial physiology, facial hair or the amount of pressure necessary for PAP to be successful… but if you have a lower pressure and your facial landscape can support a smaller mask, it might be worth looking into. So go ahead and ask!

There are two main varieties of PAP masks which come in smaller shapes and sizes, often with minimal headgear as well.


These small devices aren’t technically masks, but small pressure delivery devices which reside right inside your nostrils. For people who do not like the feeling of headgear on the face and scalp, these can be a good option as they offer minimal fitting with headgear.

ResMed claims its AirFit™ P10
Nasal Pillow is one of the quietest
pillow PAP delivery systems
available on the market.
The ResMed Swift FX for Her
has soft headgear and a smaller
pillow design for the female face.
The ResMed Mirage Swift Nasal
Pillow has a unique barrel-
shaped pillow design.

Nasal pillows may require some adjustment to the direct delivery of air pressure through your nostrils, as you cannot get a good return on this form of mask if you normally breathe through your mouth. Often noted in early use of nasal pillows during the initial adjustment period is a feeling of “not being able to breathe out against the incoming air.” This is easily addressed, as PAP machines have special settings which can be adjusted to help with exhale pressures while using nasal pillows.


The Respironics Wisp stays put with light, supportive
headgear. It easily detaches from the tubing for quick
trips to the bathroom at night. You can also hook the tubing
into the top of the headgear to redirect it toward your
headboard to reduce tangling with it.
ResMed’s Swift Nano nasal
mask is very lightweight
and adjusts to different
nose bridge lengths. It comes
with minimal headgear.

These are smaller, more lightweight versions of the classic masks that most people associate with PAP therapy.

The Mirage FX by ResMed is small,
stable and fits to most facial features.
It has a great reputation for
preventing leaks, too.

Many people who have been on PAP therapy for years may not even know they have some options now that include fixing the tubing up and over the head for better sight lines and less tangling, as well as softer or, in some cases, minimal headgear. Many of these newer masks are very effective in keeping down leak and staying put and can make all the difference if comfort with a larger mask is an issue.


A chin support can help draw the jaw shut
until you relearn to breathe only through your
nose while using PAP therapy, which is how
you should breathe naturally.
Those who breathe through their mouth may try using smaller mask options if they are willing to also use a chin support device in order to preserve the pressure therapy they have been prescribed. Chin supports help keep the jaw aligned and prevent the mouth from opening and breaking the critical pressure seal that is the key feature of PAP therapy.
About Tamara Kaye Sellman (621 Articles)

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